November 28, 2007
just returned from walking Sam Parker (the family dog) and boy
has it cooled off. I believe it was actually
warmer first thing this morning. Although the thermometer
reads 45 that north wind sure has a bite. I don't mind the cold
weather as long as the wind is not blowing. Now don't get me
wrong, when I say cold I am talking about temperatures in
the 30's. I hate the 20's and anything below that is just too
awful to talk about. For all of you who have read this
newsletter, which is soon to be 8 years old, you know that I am
happiest when I am outside and I am able to work in the garden.
The unfortunate combination of lower temperatures and the wind
chill simply make it unbearable. It looks as if my days outside
are numbered. UGH!
We decorated the
Christmas tree last night and I am quite pleased with the way it
turned out. We purchased a 9ft. Fraser
Fir from Family Tree Nursery and it is beautiful. I have close
to 40 poinsettias being delivered on Friday. I believe I have
found a place somewhere in the house for each of them. Since red
is my favorite color poinsettias are hard to resist. My favorite
variety is Olympus, known for its very deep red, almost burgundy
leaves. It also has a bit of dark green variegation that runs
throughout the already green leaves. It is quite a beauty! Don't
forget about the poinsettia. It makes a great gift and also
makes a beautiful display.
Wintry Mix Mess...
They are calling for a "wintry mix"
this weekend. This kind of weather can wreak havoc on your trees and shrubs. As
snow and ice accumulates on branches they sag and may ultimately
break. Here are some tips for dealing with the problem:
For unbroken limbs
that are sagging significantly:
- Don't shake or beat the ice and snow
off of them. This is more likely to cause more damage
than it prevents.
Gently brush off the loose stuff and
leave the rest to melt slowly as temperatures rise.
For broken limbs:
- Remove broken limbs as soon as
- Use sharp tools and make clean cuts.
This will speed recovery next spring and create a better
When ice and snow pile up it's not unusual to
reach for a deicing agent to help melt the frozen stuff away. Deicers work by lowering the freezing point of
water, creating a brine (chemical-water solution) and allowing
water to evaporate. The oldest and most common deicing agent is
sodium chloride (rock salt), but calcium chloride, potassium
chloride and magnesium chloride are also used. The damaging
effects of these materials on plants come from their reducing the
ability of plants to take up water and the effects may not show up
until late spring or summer when water stresses begin to prevail
so donít expect damage to be immediate.
Limited use of deicers and spreading the ice
slush when scooping it away over a wide area will lessen
potential damage. Heavy applications of water in the spring
season can also flush salts downward through the soil. The
relatively new deicer Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA)
is made from dolomite (limestone) and acetic acid (vinegar) and
has very minimal damaging effects on plants, animals, or concrete
If you have ever walked across a frosted lawn that isn't dormant you may have noticed your footprints showing up later in the day.
Though this is unsightly, it does not actually kill the
turf. Grass blades are damaged but the crown is not. Actively
growing turf will often recover after two to four mowings. Damage
that occurs late in the fall (such as now) will continue to show
damage until it is masked by the rest of the lawn turning brown
due to cold weather.
Are Poinsettias Poisonous?
It seems that every year about this time the rumor is resurrected
that poinsettias are poisonous. Though
there may be an allergic reaction to the milky sap, there has
never been a recorded case of poisoning. This
rumor has been so persistent that members of the Society of
American Florists have sought to dispel it by eating poinsettia
leaves for the press. In the 1985
AMA Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants, the poinsettia
"has been found to produce either no effect (orally or
topically) or occasional cases of vomiting.
Still Time To Till...
Autumn is an excellent time to add
organic materials and till garden soils. However,
even winter can be a good time to take
care of this chore as long as the soil isnít frozen. It is far
wiser to till now than to wait until spring when cold, wet
conditions can limit your ability to work soils easily. Working
soil when it is wet destroys soil structure and results in hard
clods that are very slow to break down.
There is a
limitation to how much organic material such as leaves can be
added in one application. Normally, a layer 5 to 6 inches deep is
the maximum that can be added at one time. Shredding the material
before application will encourage faster and more complete
decomposition due to increased surface area.
Time To Mulch
It's still too early to mulch your roses.
Savvygardeners find it's best to wait for the ground to be fully
frozen as this assures that the roses have been given a chance to
"harden off". You can prepare for later mulching by
collecting and setting aside the soil and mulch that you will use
later. Cover this material with a tarp to keep it dry and once
the ground has frozen you will have a good source of loose
Christmas Tree Care...
One of the most enduring traditions of the
season is the Christmas tree.
Here are some helpful tips if you are planning on putting one up
should have a fresh cut across the bottom, about 1 inch above the
old base. This removes any clogged wood that may not readily
absorb water. Next, it should be placed in a stand with a large
reservoir of water. Depending upon the size, species, and
location of the tree, it may absorb a gallon of water in the
first day, so it should be checked frequently and re-watered as
necessary. Although some people advocate placing various
substances in the water to preserve freshness, we recommend that
you just keep the tree well-watered with regular tap water.
important that the tree always be kept watered and not allowed to
dry out. If the tree does become dried out, it may not be able
to adequately absorb moisture once it is re-watered, and it will
shed its needles prematurely. A good rule of thumb is to treat a
green Christmas tree just like a fresh bouquet of cut flowers.
Christmas tree should be located in a safe place, preferably near
a wall or corner where it is not likely to be knocked over.
Keeping the tree away from heat sources such as hot air ducts,
wood stoves, fireplaces, etc., will help to preserve freshness
and lessen fire danger. Similarly, light cords and connections
used in decorating the tree should be in good working condition.
Lights should always be turned off at bedtime or when leaving for
an extended period of time.
well-watered Christmas trees do not represent a fire hazard.
Trees that are dried out, however, do. The best fire retardant
is to keep the tree supplied with plenty of water.
"A plant is like a
self-willed man, out of whom we can obtain all which we desire,
if we will only treat him his own way."
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe